As I’ve mentioned before, Chinese medicine emphasizes the relationship between the emotions and functioning of bodily organs. One of the most common manifestations of this is over-thinking and the resulting poor functioning of the spleen-stomach.

I was chatting to a friend who has been seeing a TCM doctor for severe, prolonged constipation for about 2 months now and she told me on a recent visit the doctor asked her, ‘have you been thinking too much lately?’ My friend paused for a moment before responding, ‘it doesn’t seem that much different from normal, but maybe a little bit.’ When my friend told me this story, I was reminded how big of a problem this is for many people. (And just how much a TCM doctor can know about a patient’s situation through their diagnosis.)

Thinking too much or anxiety can cause such common digestive problems as:

  • IBS,
  • constipation,
  • diarrhea,
  • distention / bloating / gas,
  • fullness,
  • nausea,
  • hiccups,
  • poor digestion (food feels stagnant or stuck in the belly),
  • emotional eating,
  • loss of appetite and many others.

The digestive symptoms can manifest differently depending on the person and situation. While not limited to females, women tend to be more susceptible than men.

In many cases, relief may come from:

  • Learning to quiet the mind, such as with meditation, Qigong, yoga or deep breathing;
  • Taking time to relax, enjoy life, and pursue hobbies;
  • Adjusting the diet or including more exercise can alleviate symptoms; and
  • Not working, reading, watching TV, surfing the web, nor letting the mind wander to stressful topics while eating may be the best approach. (I have to admit I’m guilty and suffer for it.)

For particularly intractable, severe, or prolonged cases, consider seeing a TCM doctor who can use acupuncture, give more personalized recommendations, prescribe herbs, or use other methods to address causes and symptoms. TCM has many patent medicines and herbs that can help the symptoms, bring relief, and balance the digestion system, including GeGen Qin Lian Tang (for these symptoms with diarrhea) or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (for these symptoms with constipation), or the herb Fang Feng for diarrhea.

Do not let the anxiety or stress-related digestive problems persist as insomnia, depression, and even cancer can result.

Have you had the same experience?  If so, leave a reply below.

Photo Credit: Flickr user ~*Gillian*~